Car security features and how they can help you
Crime figures suggest that ever-smarter car security features are making life difficult for would-be thieves. Owners can minimise the risk of vehicle-related theft even further by topping up inbuilt security features with additional protective measures, and by following basic precautions to stay safe.
Regardless of how many precautions you take, it is essential to have the right type of insurance cover, so that if thieves strike, you’re not left high and dry.
Do I still need to pay attention to car security?
‘Joyriders’ no longer tend to hit the headlines in the same way as a couple of decades ago. Statistically, there’s good news for motorists: a vehicle-owning household is around five times less likely to become a victim of vehicle-related theft than in 1995. More effective car security features have helped to drive this trend, although the fact that there were more than 300,000 vehicle-related theft crimes in England and Wales last year shows that it’s still important to stay on guard.
As well as helping to deter criminals, investing in additional car security can help save you money in the long run too. Taking extra security measures can improve the likeliness of your no claims bonus staying intact, and additionally lower your premium. When it’s time to resell your car, enhanced security can also make it easier to negotiate a higher sale price.
‘As-standard’ security features
Even if you opt for a lower-trim car, these are the type of features you would expect to see on virtually all new models bought today. If you have an older vehicle with either no such security measures on board or if it’s a low-spec version, it’s worth considering retro-fitting an upgrade. Here are the two main as-standard features to look out for.
The effectiveness of alarm systems is independently rated by The Motor Insurance Repair and Research Centre (otherwise known as Thatcham Research). The highest category alarm system is referred to as ‘Thatcham Category 1’, featuring perimeter and ignition detection as well as movement, glass break, and tilt sensors. It must be passively set, meaning you do not have to press an alarm button to activate it, and the siren battery should be independently powered.
This represents the industry standard comprehensive alarm system, designed to sound in the event of any intrusion attempt or physical interference. You can check on the Thatcham website whether your particular model meets these standards. If it does not, you may find that you can secure a lower premium if you upgrade to a Thatcham Category 1 alarm.
Although the mechanisms vary between models, an immobiliser is essentially an electronic security feature that stops the engine from running, unless the right key is present. A passively-set immobiliser is required for your car to meet Thatcham Category 1 status. Again, for peace of mind and to help keep your premium low, it is often possible to upgrade an outdated immobiliser to meet this standard.
Although these two ‘as-standard’ features are built in to ensure your car’s safety, car manufacturers have recognised that some like to have an extra piece of mind when it comes to their car’s security. With so many products on the market, it may be difficult to decide which features (if any) will work best to keep your car safe and secure. So, here are further protective measures to consider for added reassurance and deterrent effect:
Steering wheel lock
‘Smart’ electronic mobilisers can sometimes be bypassed by clued-up criminals. In response to this, the Metropolitan Police have suggested fitting physical steering wheel or gear stick locks as an additional layer of protection.
Consisting of a simple lockable bar, this type of device can be bought for £30 or less, and provides a very visible sign to intruders that a theft attempt is not going to be easy.
Working on the same principle as a physical steering lock, these attach to the car wheel to immobilise it. Some models cover the wheel completely and others lock through the wheel gaps. Again, wheel clamps are relatively inexpensive and simple to fit. These are worth special consideration where your vehicle is going to be lying idle for long periods.
Each car has a unique, 17-digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) assigned to it. You can arrange to have the VIN etched onto all glass surfaces of your car. As well as aiding the identification and recovery of your car in the event of a theft, these visible etchings also signal to thieves that any attempt to steal and then disguise the identity of the vehicle would require changing each of the glass panes.
This type of post-theft recovery system uses GPS to track the whereabouts of a stolen car, and report it to a central control room. Some systems even have the ability to immobilise the car by remotely disabling certain functions. Advertising the fact that your car is kitted out with such a device can also have a strong deterrent effect. These systems tend to be expensive, but are worth considering for higher-end vehicles.
Around 40% of car break-ins involve the theft of a mobile phone. By taking simple precautions such as removing your bag and phone and not having telltale sat-nav suction marks visible on your windscreen, you can reduce the chances of an opportunistic smash-and-grab theft attempt.
If you are hit by theft or damage, dealing with it is a lot easier if you have the right insurance cover in place. Essentials to look out for include unlimited windscreen protection, generous personal belongings cover, and new car replacement. To find out how to get total peace of mind, visit Club Care Insurance today.